Trial Set Over Stabbing During A Fight Between Peru State Athletes

AUBURN – District Judge Vicky Johnson set a May 1 trial date for a former Peru State basketball player accused of assault in what witnesses described as a fight involving numerous basketball and football players.

Jeffland Neverson, 24, was arrested following the Sept. 17 incident, when football player Elijah Lavalais-Hawkins suffered a stab wound to his back.


Witnesses say the fight broke out on Fifth Street about a block from the stadium where the 20-year-old Lavalais-Hawkins had played earlier in the day.

Also injured were football player Larry Hodnett, 19, and basketball player Anthony Hemingway, 23.

Nemaha County Attorney Louie Ligouri listed 190 witnesses in his information against Neverson, a guard from Brooklyn, N.Y. who had previously played for New Mexico Junior College.

The state’s witness list includes the names of 10 current or former basketball players and coach Eric Behrends. It also lists 18 football players.

Basketball player William Benjamin, 23, was arraigned Wednesday in district court on a charge of tampering with evidence. He entered a not guilty plea and a pre-trial conference was set for April 19.

Court records say Benjamin was questioned regarding a knife purportedly used in the fight. The knife had been placed in a brown paper bag and dropped in the storm sewer near the Chinese Buffet restaurant in Auburn.

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